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There’s a new series on PBS called Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness (www.mindsontheedge.org), (funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) that takes a look at severe mental illness (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder) in America through two hypothetical people.

We meet a college student who develops a mental illness while at school and her parents struggle to help her find the right treatment. We also meet a young man who was able to cope with his mental illness before his mother died. Now with her gone, he is left without critical support. He becomes homeless and is arrested for a petty crime – and so begins the too-common cycle for many mentally ill people.

It is produced by Fred Friendly Seminars, whose format is taking a hypothetical issue and then discussing this issue amongst a panel of experts. Frank Sesno moderates the expert panel, which includes Supreme Court Justice Breyer, Pete Earley, a journalist whose son has bipolar disorder, Dr. Tracey Skale, chief medical officer of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services and many more, some of whom manage their own severe mental illness.

This program is supported by NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), the American Psychiatric Association and the U.S. Psychiatric Congress. It has a mighty social media campaign behind it so policy makers, civic groups and various professionals can take action in their communities to help those with mental illness challenges.

Although there have been great strides made in the mental health field, many acknowledge serious system and institutional flaws. This program examines what still needs to be done in terms of institutional care, new and better treatments, strategies for prevention and more. The program will also focus on the criminal justice system and how those with mental illness can be redirected into treatment programs instead of sending them to jail.

Watch Minds on the Edge on your local PBS station Sunday nights at 9pm (check your local listings) and open your mind to situations that aren\’t all in black and white.